Published: 2013 in Writers of the Future Volume 29, edited by Dave Wolverton
Length: 52 pages
Setting: a small town in a world with 1800s technology
Interest: It was published in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology
Summary: Mara was raised to protect her town by shooting any harvesters that might stumble upon their town. Her eyesight went bad when she was 16 so her sister, Keera, had to take over her role as protector. Mara’s eyes are being treated by the Lady of the town, a half-vulture/half-woman hybrid who lives in a house above the rest of the town. When two men stray too close to the town and are killed, Keera leaves the town to see why they were coming. Turns out the Lady gains energy through death and has purposefully isolated the small town as a food source. When Keera comes back, the Lady disguises her and she is killed by Mara. Mara also figures out the Lady’s secret, with the help of one of the Lady’s clockwork finches.
Final thoughts: A perfectly acceptable story, if nothing exciting. I do wonder why the finch, who was one of the Lady’s creations, would turn on the Lady and help Mara figure out her secret. The Lady must have known that at some point her secret would get out. You can’t isolate a whole town from the rest of the world forever. Making Mara kill her sister just increases the risk that Mara starts prying. Of course, once Keera left the town, the Lady was just on damage control and really had no choice.
Title comes from: I’m going to guess it relates to the fact that the Lady was part vulture and therefore a scavenger of dead things. She apparently got her food from dead people.
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